Original Article by: Brittany Weiner, WSMV NEWS CHANNEL 4
Originally Posted on: January 29, 2019
As our country fights an opioid crisis, prescriptions for another class of drugs are seeing a steep increase, and they too can be dangerous and addictive. A new study just published this month shows between 2003 and 2015 Benzodiazepine prescriptions have doubled, and about half of them are coming from primary care physicians. Women are twice as likely to be prescribed than men.
Benzodiazepines are used for anxiety and insomnia but they can also be prescribed for chronic pain, and those prescriptions are skyrocketing. “Benzodiazepines are a class of medication that have a significant addiction forming liability,” Chief Medical Officer for Cumberland Heights Foundation, Dr. Chapman Sledge said. “If opioid prescribing goes down there’s some concern that Benzodiazepine prescriptions will continue to go up.” Dr. Sledge says many times these drugs are actually prescribed with opioids. “What we usually see if Benzodiazepine dependence in conjunction with opioid dependence or alcohol dependence,” Dr. Sledge said. A combination that can be dangerous and deadly especially if used long-term.
“Benzodiazepines are not benign drugs,” Dr. Sledge said. “There’s good data that suggests the combination of Benzodiazepines and opioids prescribed together increases the risk of death by fourfold.” According to the study long-term use has also increased with continued prescriptions increasing by 50 percent.